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Lawyer facing jail time for forgery, counterfeiting

December 18, 2018

A northern Indiana lawyer could be sentenced to nearly two years in jail after she pleaded guilty Tuesday to forging a judge’s name on a phony divorce decree and sending a bogus email bearing a deputy prosecutor’s name.

Jill N. Holtzclaw of Decatur pleaded guilty to Level 6 felony counts of forgery and counterfeiting Tuesday in Adams Superior Court. Holtzclaw entered her change of plea before Adams Superior Judge Patrick Miller, who set sentencing for Jan. 11.

According to Adams County officials, Holtzclaw’s plea agreement calls for her to be sentenced to a maximum one year in jail on the forgery conviction and up to 270 days on the counterfeiting charge. The charges were uncovered in separate police investigations.

The agreement gives the judge discretion to impose a lesser sentence, but the terms will be served consecutively, and followed by a year’s probation. As a result of the plea, a second felony counterfeiting charge against Holtzclaw will be dropped. The court also ordered a presentencing report to be completed five days before sentencing.

Fort Wayne attorney Chad Thurston represented Holtzclaw in her criminal case and said in an email he had no comment.

Holtzclaw was suspended from the practice of law in June for noncooperation with the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission’s investigation of a grievance against her. She had been criminally charged in February, after investigators alleged that Holtzclaw:

• Forged Adams Circuit Judge Chad Kukelhan’s signature on a divorce decree that bore no cause number and was found to be fraudulent, and;

• Counterfeited an email to the widow of one of Holtzclaw’s clients who sought to expunge his criminal record. The email purported to be sent from Huntington County deputy prosecutor Jennifer Pyclik.

The Indiana Supreme Court has hit Holtzclaw with five orders of suspension this year in five separate disciplinary cases, most recently last week. Four of those suspensions remain active. The disciplinary commission has not made public the nature of the complaints against Holtzclaw in the other cases in which she has been suspended.

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